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Archive for Tuesday, August 22, 1995

CHANCELLOR SETS STANDARDS

August 22, 1995

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Chancellor Robert Hemenway outlined ways at Faculty Convocation in which Kansas University should move ahead.

Chancellor Robert Hemenway vowed Monday to lead Kansas University into the 21st century by upholding the vision of faculty who founded the university on Hogback Ridge soon after the Civil War.

"We will be true to the tradition of academic excellence which has characterized the University of Kansas over the past 130 years," Hemenway said.

Hemenway, who took over as chancellor in June, addressed 500 people attending Faculty Convocation in the Kansas Union.

He asked faculty to make a covenant with him to overcome obstacles and set the standard for intellectual opportunity in Kansas.

"I am unwilling to let the hard times of the moment distract us from the grand vision of our predecessors," Hemenway said.

"Our challenge today is how to take a good university and make it an even better university, perhaps a great university, during a time that seems hostile to higher education."

Hemenway outlined ways that KU could move ahead.

At the top of his list was the notion that KU faculty must teach students the value of tolerance for all people. KU needs to make a special effort to recruit all types of people for its faculty and student body, he said.

"We cannot serve as an American democratic model unless we reflect the mosaic of the American republic," Hemenway said. "This means that we will have to give a priority, whether it is politically fashionable or not, to ensuring that KU is a university for all of Kansas and all the people of the world."

More minorities

The chancellor said his goal was to increase the number of minority students in the freshmen class to 360. That would increase minority enrollment from 8 percent to 10 percent of the class.

In addition, he said, the number of minority faculty should increased from 124 to 200 by the year 2000. He also said more women should be hired for the faculty and for high-level administration positions.

"We can do both of these things without sacrificing one iota of our standards," Hemenway said. "Indeed, it is racism and sexism to suggest that minority and women hiring means a relaxation of hiring standards."

Hemenway stated another of his goals twice to drive home the point.

He said: "The quality of the undergraduate experience at KU will be the single most important determinant of how well the people of Kansas support this university."

The attitude that says the student is at the center of the university must be institutionalized, he said.

Along those lines, Hemenway said KU would recruit the best students the state's high schools produce.

Faculty must buy into this recruiting effort, he said.

"If you think of recruiting as a function delegated to the central administration, we will not be successful. This is everyone's responsibility because the quality of our student body will determine our reputation," he said.

Working together, Hemenway said, KU would strive to enroll 100 National Merit Scholars in the freshmen class five years from now. Last year, KU enrolled 42.

Improving research

Hemenway vowed to maintain KU's strong research tradition in the liberal arts and social sciences. He said research grant and contract activity in engineering, health sciences and biosciences had to be improved to preserve the university's status as a major U.S. research university.

His goal for research funding would raise the take from $92 million this year to $120 million by the year 2000.

No graduate or undergraduate student should receive a degree from KU without some kind of international experience, Hemenway said. That could entail interaction with members of the international community in a residence hall or through a study abroad program.

Hemenway said that about 750 KU students study abroad each year. He wants to boost that number to 2,000 students by the end of the century.

In addition, about 35 faculty teach overseas annually. That number should be increased to 100 by the year 2000. Enrollment of international students should be increased from 2,000 to 2,500 in five years, he said.

The chancellor said investing in the university's employees was a priority. He will appoint a committee this fall to explore the possibility of enabling all KU full-time employees to take at least one course each semester tuition-free.

"I know it is complicated to implement," he said. "If we really believe in education as a means of improving the work force, then we need to invest in that belief."

Salaries, infrastructure

KU has fallen behind other universities in the competition for academic labor, Hemenway said. Faculty and staff salaries need to be substantially improved in the next five years, he said.

Faculty are still smarting from a decision by former KU Chancellor Del Shankel to delay faculty raises six months until Jan. 1 to cover a budget shortfall.

Hemenway said he was surprised to learn after taking the job that there was a dark secret beneath Mount Oread.

"We have crumbling classrooms, an antiquated electrical infrastructure, undergraduate science labs which are inferior to those in high schools, and a computing structure which has not enabled us to network our own campus," he said.

He pledged to reallocate money from KU's budget to address the estimated $30 million worth of building, equipment and library improvements. He also said state government should spend more on state university infrastructure.

As planned, Hemenway said $3 million would be cut from this year's budget. KU will operate with a smaller staff and administration, he said.

In addition, a 21-member task force will be appointed in two weeks to look for ways to streamline university functions from the chancellor's office to housekeeping, from registration to purchasing.

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